Friday, September 30, 2022
Thursday, September 29, 2022
I'm not allowed to vote on our contract because I'm not a union member, but I was included in an email announcing the results of said contract vote:
Some communication from the union-
The Tentative Agreement Ratification voting results are as follows:
Ballots Submitted: 868
Yes, I accept the Tentative Agreement: 851 (98.0%)
No, I do not accept the Tentative Agreement: 17 (1.9%)
The membership has ratified the Agreement.
Thank you to the Bargaining Team for their outstanding work in negotiating this historic deal.
There are over 2000 members in our bargaining unit, fewer than half of them voted. And less than 2% of them voted against it? Hmmmm. I'd bet we could get over 10% to vote against a statement that the sky is blue.
Less than 2%. I'm friends with our school's union rep and knew he'd get my joke, so I replied with the following:
A percentage very much like the Russian annexation votes in occupied Ukraine.
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
You can quarrel with their methodology if you want, but FIRE ranks the University of Chicago as #1 and Columbia in last place at #203.
Is your school on the list? Mine isn't, but as a military academy it wouldn't be expected to have strong free speech protections for cadets. Local university Sac State isn't on the list, but UC Davis (aka Berkeley-lite) is.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
According to this article (your mileage may vary), the top public school in California is in the SF Bay Area, near Stanford. The next nine are all in Southern California.
As for the top private schools, five of the top ten are in the SF Bay Area, with an additional one being online. The remaining four are in Southern California.
Not one school in the Sacramento area. Not one school anywhere in Northern California north of Oakland. Oakland.
It's hard not to be impressed with a student who earned the only perfect score in the world on the AP Calculus test:
An Indiana high school student received a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam this spring, the only student in the world to achieve such a feat.
Felix Zhang, currently a junior at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, aced the test with 108 points out of the 108 points possible.
On the other hand, if only 1 person in the world can achieve this, what does that say about the reasonableness of the College Board's standards? Did more students used to achieve this, but now no longer do for some reason? Enquiring minds want to know.
Monday, September 26, 2022
They wouldn't withhold them if they made Dems look good. On the other hand, this is a one party state, and the Dems would will be reelected even if, in LBJ's terms, every one of them was found in bed with a live boy or a dead girl. So why the shenanigans?
The state of California is delaying the release of test scores to the public, potentially pushing the release until after Election Day. Coincidentally, those test scores may not reflect well on Democratic leaders across the state.
According to EdSource, the California Department of Education is withholding the scores from its Smarter Balanced tests so that they can be released at the same time as other data on the California School Dashboard. There is no good reason for this, and in fact, it is a break in precedent. EdSource notes that since the department began releasing those results in 2015, it has been consistently released before other dashboard data, ranging from releases in the last week of August to the first week of October...
It isn’t hard to see why Democrats would want to stall the release of test scores until after Election Day. The school closures and restrictions handed down by Democrats at the state and local levels dramatically set students back, and all the data show this. The 2020-21 test results found that scores “declined significantly” after “five straight years of gradual improvement,” according to EdSource. The achievement gap between white and Asian students on the one hand and black and Hispanic students on the other also widened thanks to closures, which affected students in poorer communities the most.
Sunday, September 25, 2022
A couple months ago I wrote about mandatory composting here in California. Yes, that's right, mandatory composting. To limit methane from landfills, or something.
So I've been composting. Here's a picture from this morning:
If I were designing a school, I wouldn't focus and teaching kids to think the world's out to get them while simultaneously not teaching them skills and knowledge they'll need to succeed in that world:
A “woke” California high school that boasts of having a “Social Justice Academy” has scored a dismal 19 percent math proficiency rate.
San Leandro High School’s “Social Justice Academy” is a three-year “rigorous” and “career-themed” program.
The program is aimed at 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, according to the academy’s website.
As part of the course, students are required to become activists and advocate for left-wing causes.
However, the school is suffering in more traditional subjects like math, where students are getting appallingly low scores.
Such schools are for the adults, not for the children.
Yes, if you're a parent and you hear that your child isn't allowed to go to the restroom whenever they need or want to at school, you might blow up and think such policies are insane:
My children told me some of their teachers are limiting bathroom breaks to 3 to 4 times a semester.
I thought this was an isolated thing, but I asked parents on Facebook, and it's fairly common.
Experts say limiting bathroom breaks like this can be both physically and psychologically harmful.
While I don't limit the number of times my students leave for the bathroom--I have no desire to monitor the pee-pee habits of my students--let me share with you a little justification from the secondary school perspective.
Secondary school students will have anywhere from 4 to 8 classes a day. If each teacher were to limit bathroom passes (again, I don't, but hear me out) to 3 or 4 a semester, your kid could be leaving class anywhere from 12 to 32 times per semester. What about breaks between classes? What about lunchtime? What about immediately before school and after school? 12 to 32 times per semester. Leaving class. Missing out on instruction. And that's if the teachers are limiting bathroom passes.
At my high school there's no guarantee they're headed to the restroom. No, we have students whom some of us call roamers--they just walk around campus. They're not your Advanced Placement students, either, if you get my drift. Once they leave the classroom I have no control over them, and it's not like our administrators have all sorts of free time to walk the campus to ensure that kids who are supposed to be headed to the bathroom are, in fact, headed to the bathroom. So these kids roam. They could be gone 20-30 minutes, I have no control over that because I have to stay in the classroom and teach.
The idea behind bathroom passes is to keep students in class during class time, and to encourage them to use the restrooms when it's not class time. Given all the mischief secondary students can get into, that's a reasonable goal.
Parents who have nothing better to do than to squeal when they learn their baby's pee-pee rights are being restricted, I ask this--how can we better achieve both our goals? How can we minimize the missing of class, ensure students are supervised, not have to extend the school day by having longer breaks (there are state laws about "instructional minutes" per school day and year), and satisfy you that your child isn't going to burst his or her bladder? I'm seriously asking to work together on this.
And I'm not interested in discussing time-of-the-month or medical issues. Those are issues that should be dealt with separately, as they're nothing students can control. I want to discuss the 99% of the time when those aren't the issue, how can we better achieve both our goals?
Because that article linked above just runs fingernails down a blackboard for me. It made it seem like teachers limit leaving classroom just because they can, there was no recognition of the very legitimate reasons for doing so, and such writing does no service to anyone--except those who want to stir up trouble and acrimony.
A couple hours ago my sister texted me for some pictures of nana when she was my sister's age. I went through a lot of boxes before I finally found something close--nana wanted pictures of us in the 1970s, I wouldn't have that many pictures of her! It took awhile but I found a couple.
During my search I found some other pictures, and I sent them to interested parties. It was quite fun.
And then, I found a small wallet-sized picture. This post is now complete.
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Remember how the press reacted when candidate Todd Akin said that women who had been raped couldn't get pregnant? Yes, of course it was a stupid comment, and they were right to lambast him for it.
Why don't they do the same when Stacey Abrams says something equally stupid? Is it because she's black, because she's a woman, or because she's a Democrat?
MSNBC opinion columnist Dr. Esther Choo defended Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ recent claims that there is "no such thing" as a fetal heartbeat six weeks into pregnancy, arguing the heartbeat at six weeks is "a social construct that has more to do with the anticipation of future outcomes and little to do with what is actually present."
On Thursday, a clip of Abrams denying that an unborn baby’s heartbeat is present at six weeks went viral on Twitter, shocking pro-lifers. In it, Abrams said, "There is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks. It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman's body."
The ultrasound machine manufactures the sound?
The bias in the press is stunningly obvious.
Update, 9/25/22: You want more? Here's more:
We’ve seen 41-year-old Shannon Brandt, who purposely struck and killed 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson. Brandt claimed he thought Ellingson was a “Republican extremist” and admitted to murdering the teenager over a political dispute. Still, a brief search of the websites of CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS yielded no returns for the name “Shannon Brandt,” and save for conservative media, the story has evaded coverage by national outlets.
The next incident involved the murder of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative journalist Jeff German. German had been investigating abuse allegations against Public Administrator Robert Telles. Telles had lashed out at German’s reporting several times on Twitter. Shortly after German’s murder, he was arrested and charged with the killing. Yelles, a Democrat, was also an enthusiast for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), attending her CNN town hall during the 2020 election.
Again, however, Telles’s party identification has all but been erased from national news stories. The media have settled on simply describing Telles as an elected official. In a detailed write-up of the crime and the charges Telles faces, the Associated Press completely omitted his party identification. Top line: Members of the national media are going out of their way to protect a person charged with the murder of one of their own colleagues. It’s a level of professional shamelessness rarely seen for an industry already well known for protecting Democrats.
Still, these are two specific and exceptionally serious incidents that occurred after the sitting president called for a full-frontal press against his political opponents — opponents, it should be noted, whom he openly described as unpatriotic extremists. But neither Biden nor his administration has been made to answer for this dark rhetoric. Either targeted political rhetoric leads to violence and even death, as our media dutifully warned for years, or it doesn’t. But it cannot be both.
If it weren't for double standards they'd have no standards at all.
Friday, September 23, 2022
Recently we had the fake racial slurs that were supposedly from a BYU fan to a black volleyball player from Duke. Didn't happen.
Then there were the real slurs at Oregon against BYU. At least UO had the decency to apologize for the conduct of its fans.
But how can you justify a university's decision that can only be seen as an attack on an opponent school:
The University of Massachusetts is planning to hold a Pride Day on the same day that the Minutemen host evangelical Liberty in a football game.
The school made the “special announcement” Sunday on Twitter in a 37-second video featuring techno music and a uniformed player standing in a room lit by rainbow colors associated with the LGBTQ community. It ends showing how to get tickets for the Oct. 8 game.
Liberty, which started as a Baptist college under founder Jerry Falwell in 1971, has evolved into a conservative, evangelical university in Lynchburg, Virginia, that places restrictions on its students’ behavior, including monitoring behaviors in its male- and female-only residence halls.
Such poor taste. I guess sportsmanship isn't a thing anymore.
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Aren't they admitting that black and brown people are often the thieves?
San Francisco crime has skyrocketed since 2020 and bike theft has grown into an epidemic in the Golden City. In response the San Francisco Bike Coalition wrote on their "considerations" section of their website that victims of bike theft should reconsider calling the police as "Black and brown" people could be harmed from the interaction.
Why do you want to protect thieves merely because of their skin color? They’re freakin’ thieves, they should be busted.
The San Francisco Bike Coalition minds are so open their brains are falling out.
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
A Canadian high school has said it would be illegal to criticize and stop a trans teacher from wearing huge prosthetic breasts in class.
Kayla Lemieux, a Manufacturing Technology teacher at Oakville Trafalgar High School in Ontario, was recently pictured instructing a shop class with the large prosthetics on, which stretch her clothing and stick out prominently.
Despite the heavy backlash and reports that some students are skipping class, The Halton District School Board defended the teacher and said it would no longer answer questions about the issue because it was a 'personnel matter.'
The district also claimed that interfering or criticizing the teacher would go against the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Lest you think people are making too much of this, here's a picture of the shop teacher from the same link above:
I read today that this "style" comes from a specific type of Japanese anime porn, the translation of which is something like "exploding milk" porn. Others have challenged that translation. If you're ok with seeing anime porn images, here is what I get from a Google search of "exploding milk porn anime". Google as yet hasn't started blocking these images so as to discredit the translation, but I will tell you there are many anime pictures of women with unnatural sized breasts in such pics. But let's be honest, whatever you call it, should a person dressed like the one above be teaching school?
Who's more sick, the teacher or the school board that defends such sickness?
Update, 9/26/22: I've read that it's possible that the shop teacher is actually the good guy here:
Is Lemieux actually an undercover conservative activist engaging in the Alinskyite tactic, “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules”? Is he exposing the utter folly of the transgender craze with his “gender identity expression”?
I have no idea if that's true or not, but if it is: TROLL LEVEL: NUCLEAR. If not: cuckoobird.
Ever wonder why Benedict Arnold is a traitor?
Distinguished American combat officer Benedict Arnold met a British commander in secret with a plot to trade the colonial stronghold at West Point for cash on this day in history, Sept. 21, 1780.
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Descending up to 40 meters beneath the Baltic Sea, the world's longest immersed tunnel will link Denmark and Germany, slashing journey times between the two countries when it opens in 2029.
As you can see, Denmark and Germany already share a land border.
Monday, September 19, 2022
After school today I was talking to a couple of teachers and a counselor, and the counselor said that she'd really like to be a fly on the wall during one of our math department meetings. I asked why she didn't just come, that we'd love to have a counselor there. From there the conversation veered to why she would want to attend--so she could explain, for example, why the counselors sometimes put students who haven't yet passed Integrated Math 1 (the 9th grade level math class) into an Integrated Math 2 class.
Here's the logic: California requires students to pass 2 years of math, including either Algebra 1 (traditional track) or Integrated 1 (integrated track), in order to graduate. A few years ago our school board decided that for students to graduate from our district, they should pass 3 years of math including at least Integrated 2. A student who has failed Integrated 1 multiple times, for example, could take Integrated 1 in a "credit recovery" course and, if they pass that and Integrated 2 (and another class), they could graduate on time.
Another math teacher and I scoffed at that logic, and the counselor replied, "What else are we supposed to do?"
A lengthy give and take ensued. We math teachers explained how, in Integrated 2, we don't teach Integrated 1 topics, that we assume they've already been taught and move on and cover the Integrated 2 topics. Sure, there might be a brief review sometimes, but the days of "spiraling back" are gone; now, we endeavor to teach to mastery and then move on. A student who doesn't know Integrated 1 material will not be able to do Integrated 2 material simply because they don't have the background knowledge.
Math is not like history. If a student learned nothing about the American Revolution, he or she can still learn about the American Civil War. The former is not a prerequisite for learning the latter. Math, however, is different, and prior skills and knowledge are necessary for learning and understanding later material.
Thus, a student who has not passed Integrated 1 doesn't have the skills or knowledge to succeed in Integrated 2. In fact, it's a horrible thing to do to a child, to put him or her in a class he or she is destined to fail.
We came back to the question, What else are we (counselors) supposed to do? What interventions do we have?
Our answer was multi-faceted. First, our counselors need to accept that they are not responsible for students' graduating. A student who failed Integrated 1 multiple times, for example, most likely has several more failures on the transcript. And even if they don't, it's the student's responsibility to pass a class, not the teacher's and certainly not a counselor's. What is a counselor supposed to do in such a situation? Ensure the student knows the requirements for graduation, and if they don't meet them, to let the student know about our district's Adult Education program.
It's a common refrain in education against strict lecturing--if you're doing most of the talking, the kids aren't learning. The students need to be involved in their own learning. I say the same thing for our counselors--if we adults care more about a student's graduating than the student does, if we adults are doing more to get a kid to graduate than the kid does, then that situation is out of whack. But that's exactly what education is like today. Kids aren't doing well--what are you going to do about that, teacher? Around a decade ago, math scores in this country stopped going up--about the same time Common Core standards were adopted by most states. We've changed how we teach--guide on the side, not sage on the stage; stop giving so much homework; change from traditional courses to integrated courses; focus on race; do group learning--and scores were flat. They started dropping again after the 'rona shutdowns. We kept focusing on the teacher input, to no avail. Not focusing on the student side of the equation seems like a serious omission, doesn't it?
This brought us to the topic of what supports and/or interventions do we have? In addition to before-school tutoring, lunchtime tutoring, and after-school tutoring, we also have a "credit recovery" program. When it was asked why we didn't have other courses, we said flatly, "They haven't worked." We used to have a Math Foundations (way below grade level) class, it wasn't shown to help students pass Integrated 1. We used to have a Support class that students took concurrently with Integrated 1, it wasn't shown to help students pass Integrated 1. Long before we switched to the integrated track we had a pre-algebra course, it wasn't shown to help students pass Algebra 1. We split Algebra 1 into a 2-year course, Algebra 1a and 1b, and it wasn't shown to help students pass Algebra 1. We adults made all these changes, as if we're the party responsible for getting students to pass. In other words, we expected less and less of students, and we got less and less from them.
What do we conclude from that? That our math teachers are incompetent? Or that some students won't help themselves? Yes, it's kind of self-serving, but I lean towards Option B. And our counselors should not shoulder the responsibility of getting a kid to graduate. They need to keep students informed about the requirements, and help students navigate those requirements--but putting a kid in a class with no preparation, just so we can say "we gave them a change to graduate", is the lousiest of so-called solutions. It does no service to the failing student.
It would be easy to read this post and conclude I want students to fail. Anyone who's read more than a few of my posts knows I'm a conscientious teacher who takes my job seriously. I'm reflective about the work I do and constantly seek out ways I can do my job better. None of that, however, detracts from a student's responsibility to learn something and demonstrate that learning. I'll be blunt--we don't expect much in the way of learning in order to get a diploma. In fact, I'd say you have to try, hard, not to graduate. Many students go that route, however, and at some point we have to accept that students have a "right" to fail. And unless we're just going to pass out diplomas like candy, and take away what little meaning they have left, we have to accept that some will fail. And we cannot wear that as a cross, it's not our burden. In fact, constantly looking for new ways for adults to lower standards in order to get kids to pass and graduate merely makes it easier for kids to put in less effort and to learn less--and that should not be our goal in education.
Goodhart's Law is in play here. The focus on graduation rates has made the statistic meaningless.
I don't know for sure how the counselor felt about our discussion at the end of it, but I am quite confident that the suggestions and advice we gave were correct.
Update, 9/20/22: I failed to include my favorite "get kids to pass" requirement in some schools--the lowest grade you can give on an assignment, even if the student doesn't turn it in, is 50%. Yes, seriously, that's a thing.
Sunday, September 18, 2022
Sometimes a post comes along that's so perfect, the essence distilled to such a pristine form, that there's no sense in quoting from it, you just link to it and encourage others to read it. And with that:
Read it, and whilst doing so, think about the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Saturday, September 17, 2022
The state is going to pay your union dues for you? What possible legitimate reason could there be for this?
California union members could receive tax credits to reimburse a portion of their dues payments under a bill awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. Assembly Bill 158, approved by the Legislature in June, doesn’t specify the size of the credits for most dues-payers. The bill instead sets out lawmakers’ intent to provide $400 million worth of the credits starting in 2024. It asks the state Franchise Tax Board to develop proposals for how much money union members might be able to get back — calculated as a percentage of their dues — with a $400 million allocation.
Franklin Roosevelt wasn't right about much, but even he was right about public sector unions--he was strongly against them.
Friday, September 16, 2022
Last year, shortly before school started, one of our math teachers left. As we were not able to fill the position for over a month, the students in those classes went through a series of substitutes. When we finally got a full-time teacher in there, the classes were essentially feral.
The teacher we got was very young. He had been an instructional assistant at another school and thus had to get an emergency credential. He had no real teaching experience. It was a gamble, but we needed a permanent body in that classroom.
I won't say things went smoothly, but he worked hard. I don't recall that he ever once complained. He asked for lots of help and we gave it to him. He finished the school year under threat of not being hired back, but come this past August our math department was elated to find that he was coming back to us.
Now he's in a credentialing program and he needs an on-site mentor. Our principal sent out a request to our department--and we all declined to be the mentor teacher. Why, you ask? Because one of the requirements of being a mentor teacher is the completion if 8 hours of training. There is almost nothing you could offer me to induce me to sit through 8 hours of blah blah blah, and every other math teacher felt the same way. We'll do anything else for this teacher on site, but we're not going suffer idiocy just so there's a name on his paper.
Apparently, the need was getting critical. He needed an on-site mentor. I don't know if the call was put out to all the rest of the teachers at school, but as of this morning he still needed a mentor teacher. Time seemed to be of the essence.
My principal emailed me today and asked if I'd agreed to do it. I replied that I had not, that I wasn't going to suffer 8 hours of so-called training. The reply was, "ok". I didn't say so, but the fact that I am already working with a student teacher from a nearby university--and doing so without 8 hours of training!--must indicate that I have some competence. But I digress.
I emailed one of our vice principals a little later, and as an aside mentioned that I got the impression that the principal felt let down. Later in the day I got a reply from the vice principal: I'm the mentor teacher, and the training requirement has been waived for me.
I'm going to call this a small victory for common sense.
Remember when even abortion supporters said that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare? Wow, those were the days, weren't they?
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Thursday that his reelection campaign had paid for billboards in seven other states promoting abortion tourism to the Golden State in protest at those states’ conservative policies restricting abortion.
Some of the billboards are adorned with a passage from the New Testament: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
Newsom, who has made abortion a main focus of his campaign as he expands his message to a nationwide audience, has begun to market California as a destination for those denied abortions elsewhere.
He thinks the Biblical reference helps. He pretends that the "clump of cells" he wants to kill is not a separate human, with its own DNA.
Liberalism is a mental disorder.
I plan to retire in 5 years and I need there to be plenty of money in the State Teachers Retirement System:
For the first time since the Great Recession in 2008, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System had a negative return on investments for the year ending June 30.
CalSTRS, which provides retirement benefits for nearly a million current teachers and retirees, saw a minus 1.3% return on its portfolio. The year-end value of the portfolio dropped $8.6 billion to $301.6 billion as a result. The loss followed a record yearly investment gain in 2020-21 of 27.2%, CalSTRS reported.
Thursday, September 15, 2022
My school is undergoing its accreditation visit this year, and we're doing all sorts of meeting and talking and organizing in order to be ready. At our last such meeting we met in various groups and came up with what we think the school does well, today we were to come up with a list of things where we need some improvement. Our group came up with an interesting list, and I was sure that some of the things on that list were merely my pet peeves and maybe a few others'.
At the end of the meeting our group leader typed our comments into the shared document, and then called me over. As it's a shared document, he could see what the other groups had come up with, and one group had already added its comments.
Their comments mirrored ours almost to a T. I feel kind of vindicated.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
I have a hard time finding fault in this girl, and her punishment just adds salt to the wound:
An Iowa teenage sex trafficking victim who stabbed her rapist to death was sentenced by a judge on Tuesday to five years of closely supervised probation and must pay $150,000 restitution to her abuser's family.
Pieper Lewis, 17, stabbed her abuser, 37-year-old Zachary Brooks, more than 30 times in June 2020. She was initially charged with first-degree murder.
Last year, Lewis pleaded to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury, both of which were punishable by up to 10 years in prison. However, Polk County District Judge David Porter deferred those prison sentences on Tuesday, meaning Lewis could serve 20 years if she violates her probation.
Porter said he ordered Lewis to pay restitution to Brooks' family because the court was "presented with no other option." He explained that the restitution is mandatory under Iowa law...
Iowa is not among the dozens of states with a safe harbor law that gives trafficking victims some level of criminal immunity.
Update, 9/15/22: This somewhat restores my faith in humanity:
A fundraiser to help an Iowa teen pay $150,000 in restitution to the family of an alleged rapist she killed has collected more than double its goal.
The GoFundMe account for 17-year-old Pieper Lewis has raised more than $378,833 from over 10,000 donors as of Thursday afternoon – after the court-ordered payment sparked national outrage.
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
If you want to know what Democrats are doing, see what they accuse Republicans of doing.
The American left are anti-American, fascist thugs. And they're hypocrites. There's no way around it.
And Dementia Joe is among the worst.
These people are brave indeed, sticking their necks out for a view that is wildly unpopular with their governments:
Students at North American universities risk disenrollment due to third dose COVID-19 vaccine mandates. We present a risk-benefit assessment of boosters in this age group and provide five ethical arguments against mandates. We estimate that 22,000 - 30,000 previously uninfected adults aged 18-29 must be boosted with an mRNA vaccine to prevent one COVID-19 hospitalisation. Using CDC and sponsor-reported adverse event data, we find that booster mandates may cause a net expected harm: per COVID-19 hospitalisation prevented in previously uninfected young adults, we anticipate 18 to 98 serious adverse events, including 1.7 to 3.0 booster-associated myocarditis cases in males, and 1,373 to 3,234 cases of grade ≥3 reactogenicity which interferes with daily activities. Given the high prevalence of post-infection immunity, this risk-benefit profile is even less favourable. University booster mandates are unethical because: 1) no formal risk-benefit assessment exists for this age group; 2) vaccine mandates may result in a net expected harm to individual young people; 3) mandates are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given the modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; 4) US mandates violate the reciprocity principle because rare serious vaccine-related harms will not be reliably compensated due to gaps in current vaccine injury schemes; and 5) mandates create wider social harms. We consider counter-arguments such as a desire for socialisation and safety and show that such arguments lack scientific and/or ethical support. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our analysis for current 2-dose CCOVIDovid-19 vaccine mandates in North America.
Castreau will probably have the Canadians arrested for this wrongthink. Dementia Joe will sic the FBI on the Americans.
If, as they say, trouble comes in threes, then I've had a very expensive three: my under-the-slab hot water leak, which caused hundreds of dollars of water and natural gas bills and necessitated a $10,000 replumbing of my entire house through the attic; a $2,000 bathroom renovation, since part of the replumbing involved removing the wall in my master bathroom so that the plumbing to both bathrooms could be replaced; and the break-in of my travel trailer, parked in my driveway. It's been an expensive summer.
A couple weeks ago the plumbing work was completed. However, I still had a master bathroom with large pieces of sheet rock missing and no sink/vanity. A former student of mine, a real estate agent, referred me to a handyman who could do the job. He started yesterday, and when I got home from work I was very impressed with the quality of the work he had done so far--you couldn't even tell there had been sheet rock missing. Today when I got home there were two coats of paint on the walls and the vanity had been installed expertly. I think I got what I paid for.
As I said, this handyman charged a lot, so I opted to install the faucet and under-sink plumbing myself. It took me longer than it would have taken an expert, but I finished it and there's not a leak to be found. I've never been someone to do such work myself, but I admit that a certain amount of satisfaction goes along with being able to do even a relatively simple job with my own hands.
Once the plumbing was all connected it was time to start moving back into the bathroom. Surprisingly, that's taken more than time that it took to do the plumbing! The former white wall shelves are now painted dark brown, and I'll hang them tomorrow and "decorate".
House replumbing: check.
Master bathroom renovated: check.
Now I have to find a compatible window for my trailer and get it installed, and finding such a window is turning out to be a difficult task.
Update, 9/24/22: I've received a sizable settlement check that will cover almost the entire cost and installation of a new, custom window, as apparently the size I need isn't standard anymore. I'll have to pay to replace the door lock myself, but I'll just consider that to be my deductible. Things are moving forward.
Monday, September 12, 2022
There are those who want to tell others what to do all the time, and those of us who just want to be left alone. Let's read the first paragraph, the first sentence sentence, the first clause, of this article from the major Sacramento newspaper, and then you tell me which of those two types the author of the article is:
Sacramento is saturated with the wrong type of housing, and the consequences of these shortsighted land use decisions go beyond cost-of-living or environmental issues. It could ultimately derail any hope of expanding light rail to the region’s suburbs.
You know what another term for "wrong type of housing" is? Based on the current real estate market in the Sacramento area, that would be "housing that people want to buy".
Lefties always want to tell you how you should live your life.
Sunday, September 11, 2022
In 2017 I started wearing a special contact lens at night. It was a hard lens, and it reshaped my eye while I slept and gave me 20/20 vision in the morning. I've gotten a new lens each year since then, as my vision continues to deteriorate.
I wasn't pleased with last year's lens, it didn't seem to correct my vision very much or for very long. When I visited the eye doctor a few weeks ago, he decided to let my corrected eye go back to its natural state. Three weeks later he took measurements of that eye and ordered a lens to correct my vision. I picked up that lens yesterday and wore it for the first time last night.
When I took the lens out this morning I looked across the front room and out the window to the house across the street, on which I could see every line on every shingle of the roof. And this was after only one night of wearing the lens. After only a couple more nights my eye will be reshaped, and wearing the lens at night will merely help retain that shape.
I can see again. Here's to another year without glasses!
Saturday, September 10, 2022
Here's an essay so counter to much of what passes for intellectual thought these days that it had to be published in the Journal of Free Black Thought:
The persistence of this achievement gap is harmful to society. But how can we close the gap, and whose responsibility is it to do so?
To many college and university officials, the reason for the gap is racism. Moreover, colleges and universities have decided that they know how to close the achievement gap and that they should assume the primary role in doing so...
These efforts, however, demonstrate academia’s unwillingness to hold black students primarily responsible for their own academic uplift. Largely by design, colleges and universities have taken it upon themselves to be the main agents for improving black academic achievement.
This is a profoundly misguided idea. It is premised on the assumption that colleges and universities alone can close the gap by making a few changes here and there. But they don’t actually know how to close the gap, and most of these changes will do nothing to address it.
Lowering academic expectations for black people is one new change, and it is a regressive one. It fosters the notion that blacks can’t cut it when it comes to academics.
If you truly believed that black students are capable, you would hold them to high standards and let them prove how capable they are. Treating them like delicate flowers would be among the last things you would do.
Moreover, lowering enrollment standards in order to admit more black students whose academic skills are measurably inferior to those of other admittees inevitably consigns many of the black students in question to the lower spectrum of the academic performance scale. This cruel fate will surely undermine their self-respect.
Some call that "the soft bigotry of low expectations".
What, then, is to be done? The most effective strategies for closing the achievement gap are straightforward. Moreover, these strategies must be implemented by black people themselves. First, blacks need to accord greater respect to black intellectual achievement... Second, blacks must never let racism become an excuse for not excelling academically...Third, black students should stretch themselves intellectually...Fourth, blacks must reject being subjected to lowered expectations...Fifth, blacks must avoid engaging in self-defeating behaviors...My final recommendation is that black people should not rely on others for their academic success...
Although these recommendations seem like common sense to groups that have already achieved academic success, when it comes to blacks, the recommendations suddenly become hot-button issues. Even though college and university officials want blacks to do well in school, this desire is conditioned upon doing it a certain way: avoiding difficult conversations, lowering academic standards, engaging in wishful thinking, and then taking credit for being tolerant and open-minded. It is a play that has been run repeatedly, despite never reaching the goal officials supposedly seek: closing the achievement gap.
Make no mistake, racism still exists. But racism today is much less powerful than it was even two generations ago. It is certainly not an anchor that can keep down a race of people who place great value on education for its own sake, who relish the opportunity to meet intellectual challenges, who insist on being held to high standards, who refuse to make excuses, and who celebrate academic high achievers.
This can all be distilled to a catchphrase I've used a lot lately: you don't raise standards by lowering them.
Friday, September 09, 2022
Having to cover classes for which there is no teacher, that's what:
Plans in Florida, Oklahoma and other states starved of teachers to give veterans and first responders a shot at teaching is a “slap in the face” to teachers, President Biden’s education secretary said today.
“To provide educators who are not qualified or trained in the pedagogy of teaching is a slap in the face to the profession,” said Miguel Cardona.
Training in pedagogy is, for the most part, an enormous waste of time. And how does Cardona know these people are not qualified? They may be (temporarily) uncredentialed, but to say they're unqualified is at least as much a slap in the face to those who want to enter the profession. Here's Florida's announcement regarding veterans:
Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the launch of a new webpage to help recruit qualified military veterans to join schools across the state. On August 17th, the State Board of Education will consider a rule to formally implement a program for veterans to receive a five-year temporary education certificate while they finish their bachelor’s degree, provided they meet certain criteria. This rule implements SB 896, which Governor DeSantis signed earlier this year after it received unanimous bipartisan support throughout the 2022 Session. To learn more about this program, visit www.fldoe.org/veterans. To watch a video of Governor DeSantis discussing the progam, click here...The State Board of Education will consider a rule to allow military veterans to obtain a 5-year temporary teaching certificate without a bachelor’s degree, providing the following criteria are met:
- Minimum of 48 months of military service with an honorable/medical discharge;
- Minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average;
- Passing score on a Florida subject area examination;
- Employment in a Florida school district, including charter schools; and
- Cleared background screening.
If you don't want to be considered a groomer, don't focus on teaching sex to other people's children:
A California teacher in the Capistrano school district posted about a "queer library" in her classroom that was filled with over 100 books – some of which contained sex imagery, information on orgies, sex parties and BDSM.
The teacher at San Juan Hills High School, identified on the school's website as Danielle Serio, is known as "Flint." Flint posted repeatedly on TikTok about books in the "queer library" and said it was available to students and has been active for five years.
Why is it always Drag Queen Story Hour with other people's kids, rather than Drag Queen Pick Up Litter By The Freeway? Why does this teacher need to focus on sexual activities rather than providing books on history or science? To ask the questions is to answer them.
This entire (short) post says all that needs to be said.
Do as I say, not as I do:
On the brink of blackouts, California's energy agency issued a flex alert state-wide, asking neighbors and businesses to lower their energy use but our CBS13 crew found not everyone is heeding the call for conservation.
Our camera captured government buildings in downtown Sacramento with interior lighting left on with no signs of anyone working inside, during the holiday weekend.
All five floors at the Sacramento County courthouse were glowing, the California Employment Development Department left lights on multiple floors, and the District Attorney's office was also lit up.
Hypocrisy is ugly.
Sometimes the wheels of justice can turn slowly, but they do turn:
It looks like the Gibson family’s long struggle with Oberlin College is over, and the college will pay the judgment it has been fighting for years.
Oberlin issued a statement, and my previous statement that there is a special place in Hell reserved for Oberlin administrators is still in force:
Notice what is not in the statement: An apology. Oberlin College still appears not to understand or accept what it did wrong. It considers itself the victim.
(added) There also was no apology, instead a dismissive attitude, in a mass email sent by the president of the college...
What Oberlin College appears to have lacked from the start was a level-head, and a disinterested ability to evaluate both the case and the defenses. Viciously attacking the Gibsons in the case never was going to work, yet it was the tactic pursued by the college through the trial and post-trial proceedings.
Thursday, September 08, 2022
Have you ever played the mental game, "If you could have lunch with any living person, who would you choose?" My answer has never changed, it was always Queen Elizabeth. I've long admired her, I have tremendous respect for the leadership her parents showed during World War II, and she experienced so much history that I couldn't imagine a more interesting lunchtime conversation partner.
Now I don't know whom I would choose anymore. And my day is a little darker because of it.
Wednesday, September 07, 2022
One of the new movements in K-12 education is to get students started in college early, often by offering high school courses in which students get college credit for completion.
At nearby Sac State there is ACE certification, and students who complete ACE certified courses at high school get credit for completing the equivalent course at Sac State. It's a two-fer, and a good way to help students get an inexpensive (free) start at college. For years I tried to get my statistics course ACE certified, but the math department at Sac State threw up every hurdle they could. Eventually my point of contact there told me point-blank that they'd never approve my course because that would take students away from them.
I turned my attention to the local community college district and tried to get a Memorandum of Understanding with them that would essentially do the same thing as ACE--students who completed my stats course would also get credit for the equivalent course at the local community college. It never went anywhere for the same reason--fewer students would have to take math at the CC, risking jobs.
Last winter I was asked if I'd be willing to "facilitate" a dual-enrollment stats course; the students would learn stats asynchronously via distance learning from the community college instructor, but I would also have them in a high school class to answer questions, ensure they keep up with all the college requirements, etc. It was not the model I was looking for but it was the only option I had, so I said yes.
It was a rocky start. Even though I'd been working on this since last school year, I still had no books and calculators for my students when school started a month ago. And when, a week and a half later, the local community college semester began, I still didn't have the materials. And from my few communications with the instructor, I had some doubts about the curriculum.
We're now a few weeks into the year and things have settled down into a smooth rhythm. After I (finally) received a copy of the instructor's syllabus, I saw that he actually did plan to teach the course mostly as a normal elementary statistics course. After I raised the book and calculator flags with some of my district suits, books and calculators were shortly delivered. Students are now familiar with Canvas, the "Google Classroom" of college, and are able to navigate the assignments and expectations without problem.
I don't think the instructor does much work! From what I can tell, all of the work our students do is done online--and it's graded automatically. I'm sure he did a lot of work on the front end and now it runs on autopilot. I have much to learn about setting up a classroom this way.
I don't have access to Canvas so I myself cannot see the assignments or the grades; embedded in all the various dual-enrollment classes is a "success coach" who keeps us high school teachers informed. Ours went to my school, and while he did not have me as an instructor, he understands our school "culture" and the information I need and why. I have to submit in-progress grades by the end of this week, and on Thursday my success coach will send me all student grades directly from Canvas.
After a very rocky start this is turning into a good experience both for me and for my students. I have confidence that it will continue to be one.
Tuesday, September 06, 2022
It was supposed to get to 114 or so degrees today, which would tie a record set around 100 years ago. Whether or not we reached it, it's freakin' hot right now. In fact, it's only supposed to get to 74 tonight.
My local power company keeps threatening rotating hour-long blackouts to cut down on electricity usage. I guess all those wind turbines and solar cells aren't enough; let's not forget that California can only implement its unicornian energy policies by importing more electricity from out-of-state than any other state in the Union.
Being the eternal optimist (snicker snicker), though, I've found a benefit in this excessive heat.
I'm sure I've mentioned it in the last couple months, but while I was in Baja this summer, and probably shortly before, I got a hot water leak under my slab. That means that my gas water heater was running non-stop, because water was running through it non-stop. Eventually I was draining 900+ gallons of hot water per day according to the water company. And I pay by the gallon. Ugh.
Not being interested in having to run a camera through my water lines and eventually have to do something like jackhammer through my dining room floor to get to the leak, I made the expensive decision to have the entire house replumbed. Several years ago when I had a gas leak under the slab, the gas was rerouted through my attic. Now, with a water leak under the slab, I've had the water lines rerouted through the attic.
My 60+ year old house has plenty of insulation in the attic; when it was put in several years ago I was told it exceeded new-house standards. This means that my air conditioned house is insulated while the attic just cooks in the heat. The water that sits in the lines in the attic also cooks. It gets hot. And that's the benefit I described earlier.
Because now, when I want to wash off some dishes, I don't need to turn the hot water on. I just turn on the cold water, and 120-degree-plus water comes out! This would suck if I wanted a glass of cold water, but that's why I keep a Brita pitcher in the frig. I get about a minute of very hot water before the cold water from the underground pipes makes it to the faucet--by which time I've rinsed off my dishes.
Update, 9/7/22: I read today that we broke the record, 116 degrees! Dayum it's hot, even at night.
Children are such convenient victims for lefties, since children can't fight back:
Critics of the pandemic school closures have been vindicated.
They warned the closures would cause serious, possibly irreversible, developmental retardation. They warned of severe learning loss.
The critics were not just ignored, they were also maligned by a vicious cabal of politicians, news media personalities, and education professionals, most notably American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. The critics were called monsters and "grandma killers." They were accused of not "trusting" the science.
"Children are resilient," the pro-closure camp smugly asserted. (No, it’s not that children are resilient. It’s that they don’t yet have the words to describe the ways in which you are harming them.)
Now, a little more than two years after the pandemic first came to America, new data confirm the mass school closures, which, by the way, Democratic politicians and teachers' unions enforced with a religious fever even long after the restrictions were shown to be little more than superstitious hocus-pokery, caused serious harm to young students.
They won't apologize and won't admit they were wrong, because they won so much (e.g., the presidency) in the process. No, this will go in their toolbags for the next crisis, which won't be allowed to go to waste.
Monday, September 05, 2022
When I was growing up, I thought of California as some sort of beacon to the world. There was nothing that couldn't be accomplished in this state. Now we can't even keep the lights on, according to this email I received today from my electric company:
As an extreme and unprecedented heat wave deepens, SMUD and all grid operators across the state are using every available means to avoid rotating outages in the early evening hours. SMUD asks customers to limit their use of electricity from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. This aligns with Governor Newsom’s state of emergency order and the California Independent System Operator’s extended series of Flex alerts.
The #1 way to conserve energy is to set your thermostat to 80oF or higher.
Residential customers can help by raising thermostat settings on air conditioners to 80oF, limiting the use of major appliances and turning off unnecessary lights.
Commercial and industrial customers can reduce the use of lighting not essential for safety purposes in garages, hallways, lobbies, warehouses and displays. The minimized use of office equipment, supply and exhaust fans, circulating pumps and maintenance and repair equipment will also allow us to lower demand for electricity.
We'll exhaust every avenue before rotating outages are called. This includes procuring power on the open market, activating our voluntary Air Conditioning Load Management program and calling on commercial customers who have previously agreed to reduce consumption.
Should rotating outages become necessary, impacted customers will be given as much advance notice as possible, and no customer will be out of power for more than approximately one hour. We'd rotate outages by sections until the emergency is over. No section will be repeated until all 39 sections have been cycled through. You can learn which section you're in at smud.org/RotatingOutage.
Find your rotating outage section
How are those wind turbines and solar panels doing? Why do we only have one nuclear power plant left in the state, and the governor had to sign legislation to prolong its life? Why do we have to import so much of our electricity into this Democratic People's Republik?
Are other one-party states run this poorly? Remember that the governor was mayor of a city that has its own online map of where there's human poop on the streets and sidewalks. There's an app for that, too. I'm quite serious in asking this: is there any part of California's government that's well run?
Fast becoming a Third World hellhole.
When was the last time I flew, February? To and from Mexico City? And that was in the time of the 'rona, when I had to stand around outside the Mexico City airport and wait for the results of my $45 'rona test. Then it was time to go through security. I wasn't left alone, even at the gate--another passport check, my 'rona vaccination status, my 'rona test from an hour before. *sigh*
Sacramento's TSA checkpoint is nowhere near the worst I've been through. I despise the TSA, and I sound like a leftie when I say things like "Come the revolution, TSA officers will be the first up against the wall." Sacramento's will be the last of the TSA officers, though, because I've never seen them be more obnoxious than their job requires. I even complimented them once.
I'm not one of those people who will verbally denigrate TSA officers to their faces. I have my passive resistance to their procedures, though. For instance, I won't look them in the eye. That would indicate a level of familiarity I just can't muster. I hand them my boarding pass and passport and just look off to the side. One actually said to me once, "Will you look me in the eyes, please?" My reply was, "Is that a requirement?" When he said that it was, I looked--glared might be a more accurate term, but I complied.
I've flown since I was a young child. My first intercontinental flight was to Germany to visit my mother when I was 9 years old. I've flown to Europe several times in the intervening years; heck, I was in Germany in '85 when some terrorist group or another blew up the Lufthansa counter at Frankfurt International. A few weeks later a friend and I had firearms drawn on us at Atlanta-Hartsfield because we'd forgotten that he had dummy hand grenades in his carry-on bag to take to his little brother (we had just completed Army parachute training, were gung-ho, and had stopped by an army surplus store on the way to the airport). After a few tense moments all was calmed down, the dummy grenades had been disassembled and put into his checked baggage (which airport personnel somehow found, as we'd checked in over an hour before), and we got on our respective flights. Guantanamo Bay never entered our minds. Almost 20 years ago when my son and I were returning from the DC area, I almost had to step out of my shorts--in full view of the flying public--to satisfy the TSA-hole that it was my zipper that was setting off his metal-detecting wand.
So what brought on today's rush of anger against the TSA? This article: The Humiliating History of the TSA. Yes, much of the article was about "trans" and "brown" travelers and the extra humiliation they go through, but that doesn't mean there isn't enough left for the rest of us. The article points out how TSA employees are overly stressed and among some of the lowest paid federal employees; I've been known to say they're minimum-wage-caliber employees with the full force of the US government behind them.
But what exactly is that job? Empirically, we know that the TSA does little to stop massive terror plots or even the occasional airport shooting. Instead, TSOs protect the flying public in lots of little ways — by stopping cases of human trafficking, for example, or confiscating firearms from people’s carry-on luggage. And that’s good! But it doesn’t justify the massive curtailing of individual liberties inside airports, the regular harassment of ethnic and religious minorities and gender nonconforming people, and the creation of one of the most vindictive and hostile workplaces in the federal government.
As for Bush’s first line about protecting America, I don’t really recognize the America that exists at a TSA checkpoint. It is overly paranoid, vindictive, and unaccountable to us as citizens. In fact, it mostly brings to mind Masha Gessen’s observation that “resignation was the defining condition of Soviet life.” At airport security, I, too, feel a keen sense of despair and helplessness, and I can only pray that the gaze of the administrative state passes over me without notice.
The TSA fits in well with Brandon's red-and-black-lit speech from Thursday night.
I don't like the acronym DEI when DIE is much more descriptive. And here's one way you can tell how embedded DIE is in your school:
Center-right scholars have developed a measurement tool “scorecard” that allows students, parents, taxpayers and legislators to determine how embedded diversity, equity and inclusion principles and practices are at a given institution.
It will “allow stakeholders to assess the damage already done and identify areas for action,” said Portland State University Professor Bruce Gilley in a news release that called the tool a way to measure DEI “sickness” levels at colleges and universities...
In an email to The College Fix, Gilley added the DEI tool was developed to “give concerned members of the public some way to see the extent to which DEI has spread in universities, almost unnoticed.”
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it. We also need some way to compare. Clearly, not all colleges are equally sick with DEI. We consciously used a stages of disease model because we think that this is like a disease in a college or university,” he said.
DIE stands for "diversity, inclusion, and equity", and describes far-left-wing practices that are often against the law (e.g., racial quotas and segregation).
Sunday, September 04, 2022
It's better just to help grandma die, isn't it:
New research suggests medically assisted dying could result in substantial savings across Canada's health-care system.
Doctor-assisted death could reduce annual health-care spending across the country by between $34.7 million and $136.8 million, according to a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Monday.
The savings exceedingly outweigh the estimated $1.5 to $14.8 million in direct costs associated with implementing medically assisted dying.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's something very dark and very sick going on up north.
Teachers should rightly be held to high standards of behavior. That does not mean that teachers should be required to be saints.
Is it ethical to search out your kid's teacher's social media? Sure, especially if it's public. Is it ethical to try to get said teacher fired or harassed because you don't like the absolutely legal and ethical pictures and views you encounter? No, Karen, it is not:
Earlier this month, a parent on Twitter with a sizable following shared something she’d done that struck many on the app as a bit of a parental overreach.
“Got my son’s second grade teacher assignment and immediately found all of her socials,” the mom tweeted, before revealing what her investigation had wrought...
Some moms and dads came to the woman’s defense: “I check my kids teachers socials too. Looking for closet pervs and racists. Not gonna apologize for prioritizing my children’s safety above some stranger’s privacy,” one mom tweeted.
What's good for the goose:
Comically, one teacher admitted she does the same thing at the beginning of the school year, only with parents: “Not gonna lie, I love looking through parent social media. Gives me a huge head’s up for the year. Small town bonus, somebody on faculty/staff already knows em from years back.”
Fortunately, the mom in question was forced to backtrack:
But largely, the mom who tweeted the tale got mocked. (She later deleted the tweet and played it off as a joke, no doubt tired of being Twitter’s main character of the day.)
I have thousands of posts on this blog, going back to 2005. I'm sure anyone can find something they disagree with. So what? Disagree with me. Very-long-time readers might remember Sandy Smith (who has since become anonymous). I'm still teaching.
Update: I'm going to link back to this one, too, although it doesn't show me in the best light. Sandy kept threatening, so I lowered myself and taunted her. Later, though, as I wrote in one of the (currently) 39 comments on that post:
I'm going to try to toss an olive branch to Sandy here. Ok, it's a twig, but I'm going to try.
I have no confidence that a California teacher would win a similar case:
A retired Kansas teacher won $95,000 in a lawsuit against the Geary County school district after administrators attempted to force her to deceive parents about their student's gender identity.
Pamela Ricard, 58, argued that school administrators in Kansas had demanded that she use students' preferred gender pronouns in classrooms, but avoid using those terms when speaking to parents. Ricard sued, arguing such deception was against her Christian beliefs...
"No school district should ever force teachers to willfully deceive parents or engage in any speech that violates their deeply held religious beliefs," ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a statement.
For those of you who say that some parents might not support their children's views, and thus that all parents should be deceived, I refer you to this post from a few days ago, and to this quote in particular:
“You’re not entitled to take it onto yourself as a teacher to make the judgment that somehow this parent does not share the right value system, or is going to correct or guide their child in a way that you don’t approve of.”